Friday, August 26, 2011

B is for Break

Yesterday I woke up and I didn't want to face the day. Ever have a day like that?

So I did what any good wife would do: I convinced my husband to play hookie from work for a few hours and go golfing with me!

It was so what the Dr. ordered. We have a lot going on right now. We are moving this weekend, my 5 year old starts Kindergarten on Monday, and my husband has been super busy. We needed a mini-break.

And it was seriously the best day ever of golf. Since it was 113 degrees outside, we had the whole course to ourselves (except for this duck). We were the only ones crazy enough to be out there. I got the lowest score I've ever gotten, and I hit a 110 yard fairway shot straight into the hole for EAGLE!!! I threw my hat in the air and fell to the ground in joy:)!!! (For those of you who don't know golf, this is good. Like once in a lifetime good!)

It got me to thinking about writing. Have you ever crafted a sentence or a scene so perfectly that you just want to jump up, fall down, throw something, tell someone? Of course, most all of us write with an audience in mind, but rarely do we ever get to share the exhilaration of a moment with a reader. But sometimes that doesn't matter, because it is enough that we experienced it, created it, knocked it in from a hundred yards out.

Yesterday totally invigorated me, refreshed me, and inspired me. What do you guys do to blow off some steam? (Besides writing)

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

B is for Bragging

I hate to brag...and I am normally not prone to do so, but yes today I am a B-word because...I am a winner. Not like a stare in the mirror and repeat a daily affirmation to self kind of winner. But like a real winner of something really cool. I entered a bunch of contests over at WriteOnCon last week and I actually won out of hundreds of people. What did I win you ask? Drum roll please......
  A 25-page critique from author Sara Bennett Wealer author of Rivals

This is just so perfect for me because I am really into contemporary YA right now, and her's has been reviewed as one of the best. It doesn't hurt either that my work in progress also happens to be contemporary. So I know I am in good hands with the review. Plus, its 25 pages! A lot of winners got a one page critique or maybe even 15 if they are lucky. But no, not B-word Jessie! I get a ginormous twenty-five! (Said with the inflection of Will Ferrell in ELF).

So thank you WriteOnCon! And thank you Sara Bennett Wealer for donating your time. And thank you for choosing little ol' me.

Lessons learned for all you writers out there: 1) enter on-line contests--you just might win (I have won two books within the last month) 2) attend WriteOnCon again next year.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

First Question: Why didn't I write this book?

Second Question: When can I go back to Paris?

I love this book for so many reasons. But first and foremost, I love it because I love France, and this book does it justice. I spent 18 months in and around Paris several years ago, and quite frankly I fell in love. Not with some gorgeous male lead with fabulously messy hair, I fell for the country, the culture, the magic in the air. But reading this book took me back. Too bad it only lasted two days--because that's how long it took me to read it.

I heard about this book over a year ago when it showed up in the deal news. A young girl going to a boarding school in Paris for her senior awesome. I thought, "I gotta read that!" At the time, I was writing a novel set in France, and was way excited about it.  But then I forgot, or got sidetracked, or stuck in quicksand, or whatever. You know the feeling.

Then, during last week's WriteOnCon, agents, editors, and authors kept bringing this book up. They talked about what a great first page it had, what distinctive voice it had, and how good the pacing was. I went out and bought it that night.

What I loved most about this book was that it transported me. I used to walk up and down those same Parisian streets everyday, and I was there all over again. Even though I was sitting on my back lawn watching my kids play in water for two hours (sweating in the 110 degree sun)...I felt like I was in Paris in Spring. I could taste the macaroons and eclair pastries. I stood in awe of the looming Notre Dame and the shimmering Seine river at night. And I could even hear the opera lady outside the protag's dorm room. I had a similar situation when I lived there, but with an accordion and a drunk neighbor.

I could actually go on and on about this book. I loved the romance, the feeling of falling in love. I loved the depth of the characters. I loved the writing and the trust I developed in the author that she wasn't going to let me down--and she totally didn't. I loved the comparisons of France to America-totally spot on. And I loved the adventure of it all. Well done Mademoiselle Perkins. Bien fait et felicitations!

Friday, August 19, 2011

B is for...

The name of this famous Las Vegas advertisement (that used to be off the freeway I drove everyday, but has since been memorialized in bronze) is:
"No Ifs, Ands or..."

Since I am from Las Vegas, this is how I chose to describe this week's WriteOnCon online conference. It was ifs, ands or BUTTS! It was three fully packed days of writing insight, industry advice and publishing opportunities. I wasn't able to sit on my BUTT in front of my computer for twelve+ hours a day to take it all in, but I did my fair share. I learned a ton. And the best part about it is that it's still available. All you have to do is go to the WriteOnCon website, pull up the full schedule, and click on any of the discussions or posts that you'd like. 

How about you guys? Did you attend WriteOnCon? Did you love it? Did you enter to win stuff? Is your BUTT sore?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

 I first read this book over a year ago, when I was having some serious concerns about my writing skills. Previously, my thought was I didn't want to take the time to read a book about writing when I could be spending my time actually writing. Know the feeling?

But this book changed the way I feel about the craft. I thought that since I am a trained legal writer, and have been successful at persuasive writing for the audience of clients, judges and adversaries, creative writing would come naturally. Not so much.

Sure grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and other tools of legal writing don't hurt. But I learned from Donald Maass' book that the name of the game in creative writing is: CONFLICT. Sure there are many, many more facets that he discusses in this book, but really the one that he talks about more than any other is conflict: inner conflict, outer conflict, personal stakes, public stakes, ultimate stakes, active complications, tension, brewing tension, etc. While all these elements are slightly different in context (Mr. Maass spends a chapter on each one of these) they all add up to one thing: more and more conflict...with a dash more conflict.

This book is a quick read, with real practical help and suggestions to strengthen your story.  I know a lot of you out there might have already read it. Its one of the more popular writing books, endorsed by a ton of people. Totally worth the time. Even for someone like me, who hates to waste any precious writing time. I only get so much!

And btw, today B is for BREAKOUT! Let's all write a Breakout novel:)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Literary Rambles and WriteOnCon

Blog Wednesday Literary Rambles and WriteOnCon

Any of you looking for more info on agents? Any of you looking for opportunities to get to know said agents and win pitch sessions, manuscript reviews, or page reads from them? Any of you looking for ways to improve your craft, querying skills, or social platform? Any of you interested in learning about up an coming authors in your genre? And surely none of you are interested in attending an on-line conference next week with all this and more...FOR FREE.

What's that? You are interested? Well, so am I. That is why I already signed up, and so should you. Quickly. It starts in less than a week, August 16-18.

This will be my first year that I will be participating in WriteOnCon. So I can't speak from experience in endorsing it. But I gotta say it sounds fabuloso. Plus, I have been following several of the founders of WriteOnCon for some time, including Casey McCormick over at Literary Rambles...and that blog is most def fabuloso.

So check it one time. You might even win $1,000.00 cash. No joke.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book Monday: The Help

There are so many good things about this book, I could spend weeks highlighting them. Literally, others have. For example, Larry Brooks over at has done it in his "The Help Deconstruction Series." But I am not going to do that. I am going to talk about the ONE BIG thing I liked the most about this book: THE VOICE.

The voice. That squirmy undefinable thing that all writers have to find for themselves. I don't know how Kathryn found hers for this book, but its amazing. Basically, the book is told from three different perspectives in first person. Two voices are from the black maids ("the help") and one from a young white woman. This is in the 60's, in the South, and you can just feel the change a comin.

I especially like the voice of the older maid Aibileen. She talks about gettin the Good Nuff sprayed on her hair, little Stevie Wonder on the tee-vee, makin herself a poke salad with fried ham, takin care of chilluns. Some of the references to 60's products, culture, and foods were lost on me, and some really made this book. I think it is really hard to pull of writing a book entirely in dialect. Certainly when the dialect is somewhat foreign. But Miss Stockett did it seemlessly. The slang never got in the way. In fact, I think it made this book.

And that's all I gotta say about that. (Wait, that's Forrest Gump...oh well, this book is as good Forrest Gump. And since the movie comes out this Wednesday August 10th, I am predicting it will be as big of a hit as Gump was).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YAtopia: Check it one time

Blog Wednesday: YAtopia

Last week I chose to highlight YA Highway, and it was a hit. I got more views on that post than ever. People who follow my blog love YA, and really showed enthusiasm for a larger scale forum where published and unpublished YA authors get together to offer resources, advice, entertainment and inspiration. 

Thus YAtopia. I found out about this blog by a commenter on the YA Highway post: Jolene Perry over at Been Writing? She told me to check it out and I did. And here's what I loved about it:

The contributors are made up of 8 writers that come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and genders. Yes, I said "genders." They have a dude. A YA author dude named DJ who has a really cool sounding book out called Hunted. I gotta check that out. 

They are "legit." They don't just mess around with fluffy posts all the time. They have something to offer. For example, last week one writer named Chanelle Gray linked to her blog about a Pitch Contest with her agent Victoria Marini. And the day before, they had another Pitch Contest going with Vickie Motter. AND the week before they had a Full Manuscript Review contest with Bree Ogden. To me, this kind of stuff is why I blog: opportunities. I dig that.

They just flat give stuff away. All the time. Signed ARC's. New books. And tons of advice, lessons, and laughs. They are a cool group of peeps. I like them. I hope to meet some of them someday. You know, hob-nobbing with other cool writers at some fabulous event meant for the cool kids. I see authors do that all the time: post pictures of themselves with other writers of note. 

So check it one time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jumping For Joy

Turns out, I have more to be excited about than just the 100 Follower bench mark. (This is me jumping for joy on the beach...not really. Believe me, I'm not that graceful).

I've received my first blog award: 

The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

I think this is a great idea. A very fun way to help and boost each other up. So without further ado, I would like to thank Francesca Zappia over at The Lobster Tank for presenting me with this award on her blog. And here are my 5 picks for some awesome up and coming bloggers:

1) Peggy Eddleman I like Peggy's blog because there are always cookies. Mouth watering pictures of cookies. And inspiration. Both cookies and inspiration in abundance. Plus, she is a loyal writing friend. You get her on your list of bloggy bff's and she will really be there for you.

2) LJ Writes This is a great blog because she has great writing tips and links. And she has already read 35 books this year. She has a goal of 65 books this year, and is well on her way to getting that goal. Gotta love a girl who can set goals and get them. 

3) Nancy S. Thompson Check out this blog fo' sho'. Nancy is getting super involved in the blogging world. She is currently a judge for the Deana Barnhart's  Gearin' Up To Get An Agent Blogfest.  This week is the First 200 Words Novel Critique and Contest, but instead of being a regular participant, she's a judge! 

4) Kelly Vitollo First of all, I am totally jealous of Kelly already. She lives in Southern California and she has already has an agent. Catch her on the way up.

5) Andrea Pearson Andrea is brave. I've been following her for a few months now, and she is really going for it. She has made the choice to go e-book with her debut book Key of Kilenya. She is even following in the footsteps of breakthrough e-book phenomenon Amanda Hocking, and publish her sales on-line to promote word of mouth. I wish you all the best Andrea. Go get em'.

There you have it. Now I am going to celebrate by sitting at this pool: